In the summer of 2020, when it became clear that clubs wouldn’t be reopening anytime soon, Tiësto shifted his focus away from nightlife for the first time in his nearly 40-year career. The pioneering Dutch DJ, now in his fifties, moved to Denver and welcomed two kids with his wife, the model Annika Backes. Still, he couldn’t pull back entirely. His seventh studio album DRIVE, written while antsy and anxious in quarantine, is a love letter to the club experience—the adrenaline, bliss, and healing power of the collective. “The pandemic made me realize how much we take clubbing for granted,” he tells Apple Music. “It was painful.” Unlike a lot of electronic music produced during lockdown—dark, disorienting, introspective—DRIVE is a joyride of bouncy, deep-house party pop geared toward a big night out. “It’s very positive, and I like positive thoughts nowadays,” he says. “I knew the clubs would eventually come back and that people would want to feel good.” His instincts were right. In the 18 months since nightlife officially returned in 2021, Tiësto played more than 200 shows. The energy, he says, has been higher than ever: “Everybody has been ready to rave.” Read on for the inside story behind a few of his favorite tracks. “The Business” “This is a special song to me because it felt like a real restart of my career. I made it at the start of the pandemic as a way to keep myself engaged—to keep the fire going—at a time when everyone was kind of dying to get back to work. The track totally blew up. It was cool to see it do so well even though I wasn't touring, it just went on this incredible journey of its own. I envisioned it as a way to open my sets on big club nights, but it’s also just a great pump-up song. Listen to it before a big meeting or sports game or a workout. It kind of pumps you up about yourself.” “10:35” “Tate [McRae] has an incredible voice. And even though she’s had amazing success already, she’d never really done a dance song. So to work with her was incredible—her energy, what she brings to the track, it's amazing. The track is about the moment the night starts for me, 10:35. That’s usually when I'm wrapping up dinner and starting to think about what’s next. It’s when things really get going, so it fits perfectly on this project.” “Hot In It” “I've been trying to work with Charli [XCX] for years, ever since she worked with Icona Pop [in 2012]. I always loved her indie vibes, and I just think she's an incredible artist. When we got this track, the original vocalist was good but not great. I knew immediately that I wanted Charli on it. Amazingly, she was super down for it, and we rewrote the lyrics a little bit together. It's such a good dance track because it’s about being confident in yourself. Like, just because somebody breaks up with you doesn't mean you aren’t good enough. This song is about saying, ‘No, I’m a 10. You’re missing out. And I’m gonna go out tonight, feel hot, and forget about you.’” “Pump It Louder” “[The original Black Eyed Peas song] was one of my all-time favorite party songs back in the day, and I've never heard a good house version of it—like a good, proper slowed-down edit, because the original was so fast. So I made a super house-y version and sent it over to Will [] to have him check it out. He loved it. He got super involved and gave me some feedback and we wound up finishing it together. When I started playing it out in sets, the reaction was huge, and not just on the famous guitar line that everybody knows, but also on the drop. People just loved it.”

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